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From the News Desk: China port congestion persists as India braces for cyclone

Shipping gets to grips with graft, but sanctions compliance risks will outlast any thaw in US-Iran relations

A small cluster of coronavirus infections at China’s Yantian port has added to congestion woes. India’s east coast braces for another big storm a week after Cyclone Tauktae battered its western ports. European box shortages set to persist as containers contemplate a year-long peak season

AN OUTBREAK of coronavirus at China’s southern export hub of Yantian added to congestion woes, with the port halting entry for export containers.

Operator Hutchison Ports earlier suspended operations at the west part of the key gateway port, including three of 20 deepwater terminals, after four infected stevedores were found.

Health authorities have ramped up testing and disinfection and warned there may be more positive cases.

It comes as India’s eastern ports are bracing for a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ with vessels told to vacate anchorages. The warnings come just a week after Cyclone Tauktae hit the country’s west coast, halting operations at 21 ports and capsizing barges and tugs in the Arabian Sea.

In Sri Lanka, a worsening chemical fire on the feeder ship X-Press Pearl (IMO: 9875343) led to an explosion. The ship was evacuated and at least eight containers, some feared to contain acid, have fallen into the sea.

Shortages of export containers at European ports are set to worsen as carriers prioritise getting empties back to Asia rather than waiting for less lucrative backhaul cargoes.

Hapag-Lloyd, which enjoyed a strong first quarter off the back of tightened capacity, expects the container squeeze will last until the fourth quarter, while MOL reckons things will settle by the second half of 2021. Zim, the Israeli container line, posted a record quarterly profit.

Meanwhile our leader column this week looks at what might happen should the new US administration lift sanctions on Iran.

The Lloyd’s List View: The world has changed, and even without ‘maximum pressure’ shipping will continue to feel the risk of sanctions compliance.

Listen out: In better news, the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network now represents half of global tonnage. Chief executive Cecilia Müller Torbrand explains shipping’s quiet anti-corruption revolution.

Don’t miss: Richard Clayton’s piece on the real reason there are so few female seafarers.

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